The Desert Song Story
Building an Oasis in the Desert
About Desert Song
In 1983, Desert Song Yoga & Massage Center was launched in Mary Beth Markus’ living room. Mary Beth’s vision was to create a tranquil space in the heart of the city where people could come, not only to practice yoga or receive a massage, but also to evolve to their highest level of health and well-being and to find their joy. Mary Beth’s mission was well received by the Central Phoenix community. Over the next twentythree years, Desert Song would become a pioneer for yoga and massage in Phoenix and would outgrow, not only Mary Beth’s living room, but also four subsequent studio spaces. Though the physical space has changed over the years, Desert Song’s mission has always stayed the same: to provide our community with a place to connect with themselves and others, through quality education and health of the mind, body and spirit. We are proud to have stayed true to that mission for the last 30 years and look forward to a bright future in the Valley.
About Mary Beth Markus, Founder & Director
In the Beginning
Long before yoga became a national trend, Mary Beth was sharing the practice’s benefits with the central Phoenix community. In 1979, as a stressed-out,
interior design student at ASU, Mary Beth began practicing yoga, after being reluctantly dragged into her first yoga class for PE credits, with teacher
Carol Mitchell. Almost as soon as she said her first Om, Mary Beth knew that yoga would be an integral part of her life. After graduation Mary Beth
began taking health-oriented classes at the Franciscan Renewal Center with Lu Bellamak. Seeing her ability to connect with others and her leadership
potential, Lu encouraged Mary Beth to begin teaching yoga. Soon thereafter, Mary Beth received her first 500-hours certification at Ananda's Yoga
Center in Nevada City, CA. In 1983, Mary Beth officially set-up shop, and she began teaching in her home and in offices, churches, spas and community
centers in Phoenix. That same year, Mary Beth became a licensed massage therapist. This melding of yoga and massage in Mary Beth’s
life provided the ground for Desert Song’s growth.
The Education Continues
As Desert Song has blossomed over the past 30 years, so, too, has Mary Beth. Looking to deepen her practice and understanding of yogic traditions,
Mary Beth went on to study with world-renowned Iyengar teachers, began her spiritual and meditation practice in Kriya Yoga at the Ananda Yoga Center
and completed Levels I and II in Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy. Over the last decade, both John Friend’s Anusara system of yoga and Erich Schiffmann’s
easy, accessible and enjoyable approach to yoga have influenced Mary Beth’s practice. On a personal level, Mary Beth continues to be inspired
by her spiritual teacher, Rama Jyoti Vernon, founder of The International Yoga College, and by her personal friend, mentor and yoga master, Louise
Rickel, who has been practicing for almost half-a-century.
Today, as a yoga master in her own right, Mary Beth continues her commitment to her education by traveling extensively to study with other distinguished yoga faculty in the areas of yoga therapeutics, chakra and energy work, bodywork, meditation and philosophy. Mary Beth is grateful for and has a deep respect for all of her teachers and the lineages of yoga she practices and teaches. She is committed to giving back to the community that has served her so beautifully. Mary Beth serves as an advising board member for the International Yoga College and is known as a leader in the training and development of yoga teachers. Over the past 18 years, she has been honored to teach some of the most talented instructors in the Valley, many of whom have gone on to national acclaim.
As a Leader
In addition to her gifts as a teacher and therapist, Mary Beth is a talented business owner and pioneer in the yoga and health communities. For
twenty-five years, she has stayed focused on her vision to help people evolve to their highest level of health and well-being, based on the yogic
traditions. Using yogic principles as her guide, Mary Beth strives to bring the spirit back into the way owners run their companies, and she leads
by example. As her business grew, so did her leadership skills and her ability to develop a cohesive staff who respect each other and the community
they serve; to bring people and talents together for mutual success by partnership with other service-oriented businesses; and to be a catalyst
for students, clients, staff and teacher trainers to move beyond self-imposed limitations in order to find their true paths and joy in life. These
skills have allowed Mary Beth to move her business and her life to a higher level.
On a Personal Level
Mary Beth’s yoga philosophy blends beautifully with her education and experiences and allows students and clients of any age, any level and any background to be inspired. Mary Beth loves the group experience and the incomparable energy of yoga classes and workshops, while at the same time enjoys connecting individually with clients through massage and private consultation in yoga therapeutics, mentoring and energy balancing. Mary Beth finds joy in her free time by discovering and refurbishing second-hand treasures to design and decorate her home and studio. She loves the beach, swimming, riding the waves on a boogie board, Sunday bike rides, sharing time, meals and stimulating conversation with others and living a rich yogic life on and off the mat.
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